ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #20 March 15th 2018

Was able to sleep until after 9am. Yay! Only to find out that our flight was delayed and I could have slept until noon! Boo!

We are heading to Edmonton today, a city that has a lot of history for me.

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My wife hails from Edmonton and back in the day, when we were just dating, I frequented Edmonton time and time again. Interestingly enough though, just prior to my meeting her, I had already started frequenting Edmonton because of some friendships I had made with some lads who were playing on a very gifted hockey team of that era.......The Edmonton Oilers. What a team!

got to know a bunch of them but mainly, Wayne, Mark & Paul, better known as Gretzky, Messier & Coffey).

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What a team! What players! Gretzky most likely being THE GREATEST to ever lace up a pair of skates. But Mess & Paul? Not that far off the mark either huh? Plus you had Jari Kurri, Glen Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr the list goes on. Although I am a LEAF fan through and through, I have a soft spot for the Oilers to this day, due to those friendships.

One of the highlights of my singing career was being asked by Wayne, to sing the National Anthems of the U.S. & Canada, for their Stanley Cup Final, against the Philly Flyers. Being a huge sports fan, this was a BIG deal to me. How many times prior, had I watched others sing the anthems on national television where the camera shows the singer, then cuts to the flag, then cuts again, to the players nervously twitching and shifting as they prepared for war. I remember thinking before I took front-and-centre, that my dad and brother would be watching at home and that is what they would see as the son and brother sang his heart out. 

 Ready to sing the anthems for the Blue Jays.

Ready to sing the anthems for the Blue Jays.

It’s nerve-wracking doing the anthem, I won’t lie but it just takes focus and breathing to relax AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT, TRY TO MAKE THE ANTHEM YOURS!! It was NOT written for you and it certainly wasn’t written BY YOU. So we don’t need your special “rendition” as you try to hold onto notes for minutes at a time and show us how you can do a thousand trills, inflections and ad libs from HELL.

I am proud of ALL the performances I have done for various teams; Toronto Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Raptors and FC but it’s that Stanley Cup Final one that sticks with me the most.

I can see myself in the tunnel. The arena deafeningly loud. I wasn’t too nervous about our Canadian Anthem but as most people know, especially those who have sung it in high-pressure situations, the American Anthem is a tough one to nail, especially IF you don’t begin in the proper key for yourself. Start too high and by the time you reach the middle ( especially if a guy), your balls are now somewhere around your midriff. If still alive however, by the time you reach the end, you might as well join the fraternity of “The Castrati,” because you now have no balls left worth living with; Case in hand, check out Olympian Carl Lewis’ version on you tube.

 Carl Lewis “slaughters” the Anthem.

Carl Lewis “slaughters” the Anthem.

I sailed through them both with flying colours and somewhere in my garage, tucked in an old box of VHS Tapes, resides a copy of that performance. One day soon, I will get around do digitizing those tapes and if I can salvage that one I will show it to y’all👍


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We finally boarded our flight from Regina to Edmonton at 2:55pm. I immediately settled into, yes you guessed it.......  Peaky Blinders.

Edmonton has grown so much since back in the 80’s, when it had such a “small town” feel. It felt very “local” sort of like, when I was a kid and everyone seemed to know everyone else, and their business, lol.

Which reminds me of a scene in one of my favourite movies, Local Hero, where the protagonist in the film, Houston oil executive "Mac" MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) gets more than he bargained for when a seemingly simple business trip to Scotland changes his outlook on life.

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There is a scene where Mac, is chatting with a local parish minister out on the grounds of the church. At the end of the conversation he says to the minister,”I trust you’ll keep this private between us?” To which the minister replies,” Oh yes, Mr MacIntyre, I will be as discreet as the next man.But news has a way of traveling fast around here.”

The camera then cuts to inside the church, where ALL the people of the village are gathered by the window. One fellow who is pressed against the window turns and says to all the others,”The reverend says, news travels fast around here! 😂

That was Edmonton. Everything must change however.

Arrived at hotel a little worse for wear from the long delay in Regina. Time for a quick nibble, then we basically had to get ready to go immediately to venue. We are back in one of the Coast Hotels, the sort of “boutique groovy hotel” where those of you who have been reading all of my blogs will remember the one in Vancouver that had a robe, slippers, an umbrella and a yoga mat in the closet.

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This one however, has less of those items but it has one of those “groovy” toilets that are like “space seats.” They warm up. They position, and re-position themselves. They function as a bidet. Tonight at the quick supper we had, the other guys were so enamoured with theirs, they were boasting about them. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that mine is the deluxe version. That is to say, that when finished “going,” mine has an actual human hand that comes out to give your arse a wipe. 😳

Got to the theatre on time, to the relief of Johnny’s camp, who were all aware of the fact that our flight was delayed 3hrs and that others were being cancelled. A giant sigh of relief reigned when we walked in. The audience was fantastic. Edmonton has ALWAYS been kind to Glass Tiger and I am sure Johnny would say the same about himself. We all knocked it out of the park. My nephew was in the audience tonight and I brought him backstage afterwards, before us all leaving to go catch a quick nightcap together. Sam and I ha e a 7am lobby call tomorrow for Breakfast Televison. 

Goodnight Dear Canada, until tomorrow.

        ~Alan